It is no surprise that nature is filled with risky situations and environments, but can we say they bring positive feelings? And even so, how does this fit in interior design?
Actually risk design features are among the most Instagrammable and sit on top of our Pinterest boards.
The question is: why is it so?
This is what we’ll explore in this month’s episode of Biophilic Moodboards.
So let’s dive into the fascinating relationship between risk and interior design.
Risk & biophilic design
In order to fully support our wellbeing, interiors need to be relaxing or stimulating according to the situation.
If a bedroom calls for a soothing ambiance, a stimulating environment will be much more appropriate when creativity is required (like in office design) or just to create a compelling interior.
This is exactly where risk features come into play, as they help to make an atmosphere intriguing and inspiring.
But not just any type of risk will work...
How does risk benefit our wellbeing?
Risk is a broad concept and what is in scope for biophilic design is a balanced combination of perceived risk and a rational knowledge of safety. In practice, this refers to situations that seem risky while being practically safe.
Such feelings of apparent risk have been connected with dopamine release in our brain *. And a short dose of dopamine can stimulate motivation, memory and problem solving, all precious assets when trying to be creative!
On top of this, risk design features are among the most spectacular ones. They leave people surprised and amazed, achieving what we would commonly call a wow factor. And this sense of excitement is also key to make an interior engaging!
Risk in interior design
There exist several ways of introducing risk in interiors. Essentially, it all boils down to playing with shapes, materials and perspectives to create the perception of risk while keeping everything safe.
One widely-used risk feature is an infinity pool. Despite being practically safe, infinity pools do cause a little shiver at first! Similarly, pools with a glass bottom are also very effective in conveying a perception of risk.
More in general, clear glass is a good choice when creating a risk feature.
Glass makes things visually disappear creating a sense of perceived risk while still being structurally sound.
Examples go from a glass staircase banister to glass floors and furniture legs.
Full-height windows are also a favourite feature in biophilic design. Besides creating a sense of risk (especially when located on higher floors), they break the box and connect the interior with the outdoor space in a seamless way.
Suspended elements are also an idea to add an element of risk in interiors as they give a sensation of instability.
Other seemingly unstable examples are cantilevered features like floating mezzanines, staircases or even entire rooms!
Playing safe with risk
Risk features are clearly not suitable for all situations nor for everybody. But there is one instance of risk that is less extreme yet equally effective: the risk of getting wet.
A good example of it would be a floating pathway across a water pond.
Or also, would you say that falling right into the water from a hammock is enough of a risk? Well, the answer is going to be highly personal. But for sure I would not complain if I had a similar feature in my home!
- Kohno, M., Ghahremani D.G., Morales A.M., Robertson C.L., Ishibashi K., Morgan A.T., Mandelkern M.A., London E.D.(2013). Risk-Taking Behavior: Dopamine D2/D3 Receptors, Feedback, and Frontolimbic Activity. (opened in a new window/tab) Cerebral Cortex, 2015 Jan, 25(1): 236–245.
- Wang, D.V., Tsien J.Z. (2011). Convergent Processing of Both Positive and Negative Motivational Signals by the VTA Dopamine Neuronal Populations. (opened in a new window/tab) PLoS ONE 6(2), 2011; 6(2): e17047
- Zald, D.H., R.L. Cowan, P. Riccardi, R.M. Baldwin, M.S. Ansari, R. Li, E.S. Shelby, C.E. Smith, M. McHugo, & R.M. Kessler (2008). Midbrain Dopamine Receptor Availability Is Inversely Associated with Novelty-Seeking Traits in Humans. (opened in a new window/tab) The Journal of Neuroscience, 31 December 2008, 28(53): 14372-14378.
- The 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design is a framework conceptualized by Terrapin Bright Green